One of Northern California's fastest-growing grocery chains is also among the most progressive — even in the face of recent controversy over employee immigration status.
Over the weekend, Mi Pueblo Food Center, which has 21 locations including one in Gilroy and another in Watsonville, awarded over $30,000 in scholarships to employees interested in getting college degrees.
The tradition of helping employees with higher education started years ago, but became an official program more recently. This year, 36 employees were selected and were honored in an official ceremony at Mi Pueblo Plaza in San Jose.
Mi Pueblo CEO Juvenal Chavez presented the scholarships to the three dozen employees in front of members of the San Jose City Council as well as a crowd of family and friends.
In recent months, Mi Pueblo has also been in the news for suspicion of employing illegal immigrants. In October, the Department of Homeland Security performed an audit of the I-9 documents of all 3,200 Mi Pueblo employees to verify immigration status.
"As far as we know today, everyone is legal to work and has provided proper documentation to complete the I-9 form," Perla Rodriguez, vice president of public affairs, told Supermarket News. "The thought of losing even one member of the Mi Pueblo family due to a government order pains us greatly."
Bay Area labor unions condoned a consumer boycott of Mi Pueblo in late October when news of the I-9 audit became public.